Zika virus infection confirmed in Clallam resident; woman has recovered from illness and outbreak called unlikely

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PORT ANGELES — The Clallam Department of Health and Human Services reported today that it has confirmed a Zika virus infection in a county resident.

The individual, who was not identified, is a young woman who had recently traveled to a region of Central America where Zika transmission is occurring, according to a news release. She has recovered from the illness without complications.

“In Washington, we are fortunate that we don’t have the species of mosquito that transmits the Zika virus, so a widespread outbreak is very unlikely,” said Dr. Christopher Frank, Clallam County health officer.

Health and Human Services is working with the state Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Zika virus is almost always a very mild illness, according to the news release.

About 80 percent of those infected never show symptoms of the disease, while about 1 in 5 people will have only mild symptoms, including fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes that last a few days to a week.

For pregnant women, infection with Zika virus is a concern because it has been linked to a serious brain birth defect called microcephaly.

“For pregnant women or women who may become pregnant, this is an important reminder to consider delaying travel to regions with Zika,” said Frank.

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus disease and no specific medical treatment for people who are infected.

This is the third confirmed case of Zika virus infection in a returning traveler from Washington state.

The first was a Mason County man who recently traveled to a Zika-affected area.

The second case was a woman in Spokane who was tested based on CDC guidance that all pregnant women who traveled to a place with a Zika outbreak during pregnancy receive antibody testing for the virus.

CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women.

Pregnant women should consider delaying travel to areas with Zika.

If they must travel to one of these areas, they should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during their trip.

The mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus are daytime biters, so it is important to apply prevention measures throughout the day as well as during the evening hours.

Men returning from an area with Zika who have a pregnant partner, or who have a partner whose pregnancy status is not known, should use a condom during sex or not have sex during pregnancy.

The state Department of Health recommends persons traveling to areas with Zika protect themselves against mosquito bites by:

■ Applying EPA-registered insect repellents to skin following label instructions.

■ Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants and closed shoes or boots instead of sandals.

■ Using bed nets in remote locations lacking window screens and/or air conditioning. These should reach the floor or be tucked under the mattress.

■ Avoiding perfumes, colognes and products with fragrances that might attract mosquitoes.

■ Using clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear that contain permethrin. Permethrin-treated clothing repels and kills mosquitoes and other pests and retains this effect after repeated washing. Some clothing is available pretreated with permethrin; permethrin should not be used directly on skin.

The list of Zika-affected areas includes many countries in the Caribbean and South and Central America.

The CDC keeps an updated list and travel recommendations at http://www.cdc.gov/zika.

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